Officials at James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa are refuting claims of an infestation of rodents around the cafeteria.
"There is no safety concerns," said Jana Boehmer, Chief Nutrition and Food Services.
Earlier this month, a dead rat was discovered above the ceiling of the dry storage area inside one of the kitchens. More reports indicated an infestation of rodents.
"I think there's been a recent uptake," Boehmer said, but she insisted there has not been an infestation.
Boehmer said she anticipated problems when crews started tearing down an apartment near the hospital. The VA hired an outside pest control company to spray weekly. The company was hired in January, but started in June.
"We knew that was going to be happening so we were prepared for an increase," Boehmer said. "It also is rainy season here and during rainy season, we do see more pests coming into the facility."
One patient, who eats inside one of the cafeterias, said he hasn't seen a pest problem.
"The place is absolutely clean," said patient John Indelicato. "I haven't seen an ant or a bug or anything."
The head of Nutrition and Food Services provided a tour of the two kitchens at the hospital. Employees washed dishes after serving more than 100 patients during the lunch rush.
"We are inspected by joint commission and we've never had any findings related to pest control or roaches as far back as I'm aware of," Boehmer said. "And I've been here for 10 years."
Recently, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson called for action to be taken to fight the reported rat and rodent problem at the James A. Haley VA Hospital.
Boehmer said she has spoken to staffers from both U.S. Senators. She also invited them to come for a tour of the kitchens. So far, there's been no response.